Eoin Morgan wants England to embrace the 'dream' ahead of World Cup semi-final

Eoin Morgan - relishing the semi-final with Australia
Eoin Morgan - relishing the semi-final with Australia

Eoin Morgan wants his England side to embrace their "dream" World Cup semi-final against Australia and prove their recent defeat to the old enemy was nothing but a bump in the road.

The rivals will go head to head at Edgbaston on Thursday, fighting for the right to take on a New Zealand side who shocked India to seal their place in the Lord's showpiece.

It is England's biggest knockout match in a generation and the stakes could scarcely be higher but Morgan hopes they can enjoy their moment in the sun.

"I think sometimes you can lose sight of the position that you're in and the fact you're living your dream. Sometimes, I'm guilty of it," he said.

"I don't think it is impossible to play with a smile on your face. I think excitement should probably should be the dominant (emotion). It's the semi-final of a World Cup.

"The support we have had throughout the tournament has been unbelievable and certainly something I have never experienced in my life. The amount of good faith and goodwill going around is fantastic, so we sense the support that's with us, but also the opportunity as well."

Rewind just a couple of weeks and England's prospects were looking vastly different, with Australia's 64-run win at Lord's forcing the hosts to the brink of elimination.

Faced with a 'fight or flight' moment, the hosts recovered their fighting spirit in dominant victories over India and the Black Caps and Morgan warned Australia they would not have it so easy again.

"I think we're probably more confident than we were three games ago. We are probably a different team," he said.

"For a while getting through to this stage looked unlikely, or was called into question, and I think that makes it more exciting for us. It feels like we're back to the team we are."

Morgan will also get the chance to settle a personal score if and when he comes up against the tournament's leading wicket-taker, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc.

Morgan's former team-mate Kevin Pietersen sent an incendiary tweet about their match-up at Lord's, accusing the England skipper of backing away and showing "weakness" - cricket code for being scared of pace.

Morgan told BBC Sport: "When Kevin Pietersen comes out with a comment, it's very similar to comments I address from Geoffrey Boycott. They are not ones that are considered good for the team environment and don't take the best interests of the team or the player at heart.

"Guys are trying their heart out to do well for their country, trying to learn, trying to get better. We have critics being critics. They need to do that, that's their job, so let them be."

England have utilised the services of two left-arm 'dog throwers' in the nets - Ant Botha and Donovan Miller - but that is not to say Starc has them spooked.

"We are not over-targeting or overanalysing anybody. We've played against him a lot before," added Morgan.

"There's only so much practice you can do. (It's about) producing it in the game and facing that bowler, whoever he is. The more you face him, the easier it gets. He's a good bowler but they have quite a few fine bowlers."

England would only contemplate changing a winning side if the pitch in Birmingham looks extremely receptive to spin, bringing Moeen Ali back into the equation.

Fitting him in might mean sacrificing Liam Plunkett, though, a bold call given the team's three tournament defeats have come when he has missed out.

"It's always a tough call when we leave him out. He's never let us down," said Morgan.

"He's not lost a game yet which is obviously a good sign. But, if it we feel it is going to turn we will lean towards a spinner."

England's semi-final record

Cricket World Cup 1975 - semi-final v Australia, Headingley, Leeds

England reached the semi-finals in the first edition of the Cricket World Cup but were defeated by Australia. In what is still the best World Cup performance to date by a bowler, Gary Gilmour took six for 14 with England bowled out for 93 after having fallen to 37 for seven. Australia also fell to 39 for six before Gilmour hit 28 runs from 28 balls to seal a four-wicket victory.

Cricket World Cup 1979 - semi-final v New Zealand, Old Trafford, Manchester

New Zealand elected to bowl after winning the toss and England quickly fell to 38 for two. However, 53 from Mike Brearley and 71 from Graham Gooch lifted England's innings with the final score reaching 221. New Zealand's John Wright hit 69 but the loss of wickets hampered their efforts. After failing to hit the required 14 runs in the final over, England went on to play the West Indies in the final but lost by 92 runs.

Cricket World Cup 1983 - semi-final v India, Old Trafford, Manchester

England won the toss and elected to bat but restrictive Indian bowling led them to be bowled out for 213. In response, India's Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil made half-centuries as they reached their target in 54.4 overs, winning by six wickets and subjecting England to another semi-final defeat.

ICC Champions Trophy 2004 - semi-final v Australia, Edgbaston, Birmingham

England faced Australia in their first Champions Trophy semi-final and elected to bowl. Darren Gough took three for 48 as Australia reached 259 for nine. England's Michael Vaughan hit 86 in reply as the target was reached after 46.3 overs with England notching 262 for four. The West Indies awaited in the final but England went on to lose by two wickets.

ICC Champions Trophy 2009 - semi-final v Australia, SuperSport Park, Centurion, South Africa

After defeat in the 2004 semi-final, Australia claimed revenge over their rivals. Tim Bresnan hit an impressive 80 but England were all out for 257. The Aussies made their victory look easy, losing only one wicket as they reached their target with Shane Watson hitting 136 not out. Australia went on to beat New Zealand by six wickets in the final.

ICC World Twenty20 2010 - semi-final v Sri Lanka, Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia

The third edition of the World Twenty20 tournament took place 10 months after the second due to the cancellation of the Champions Trophy in 2008. Sri Lanka were all out for 128 as Stuart Broad took two for 21. After a score of 42 from Kevin Pietersen, England reached their target in 16 overs leaving them to face Australia in the final. After another fine Pietersen performance, linking up for an 111-run partnership with Paul Collingwood, England claimed their first International Cricket Council world championship.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - semi-final v South Africa, The Oval, London

England elected to bowl after winning the toss and James Tredwell took an impressive three for 19 in seven overs as South Africa were bowled out for 175. Jonathan Trott's 82 was the top score for England as they reached their target - losing only three wickets in the process. They went on to face India in the final at Edgbaston but narrowly lost by five runs.

ICC World Twenty20 2016 - semi-final v New Zealand, Feroz Shah Kolta, Delhi

England won the toss and elected to bowl with New Zealand reaching 153 for eight from their 20 overs. England replied as Jason Roy scored the second-fastest half-century for an English player in a World Twenty20 match as he reached the landmark off 26 balls. The target was met after 17.1 overs as England progressed to the final where they were narrowly beaten by the West Indies.

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 - semi-final v Pakistan, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

After qualifying for the semi-finals by winning their first two group games, England faced Pakistan in Cardiff. Joe Root hit 46 as Hasan Ali took three for 35 with England reaching 211 before they were bowled out. Pakistan lost only two wickets as they reached their target in 37.1 overs after Azhar Ali finished with 76. They went on to beat rivals India by 180 runs in the final.

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